Here’s a round-up of news briefs from around Southwest and Southside. Send yours for possible inclusion to

* * *

Appalachian Power issues RFP for renewable energy

Appalachian Power issued a Request for Proposals for up to 100 megawatts  of solar and/or wind resources via one or more long- term power purchase agreements (PPAs).

 With a PPA, the company enters into an agreement for the energy, capacity, ancillary services, and environmental attributes including renewable energy certificates (RECs) from the facility to help the company meet its goals under the Virginia Clean Economy Act (VCEA). Under the VCEA, Appalachian Power must meet annual interim requirements as it works toward 100 percent carbon-free energy in its Virginia service territory by 2050.

Projects must be located in Virginia and provide power directly to the company’s distribution system or be interconnected to PJM, the independent regional transmission organization that manages the electric grid in 13 states, including Virginia. The minimum bid size for solar projects is 5 MWs and 50 MWs for wind. Projects must be operational by December 31, 2025. Agreements must be for 20 or 30 years.

Appalachian also issued a second RFP for for unbundled renewable energy certificates . A REC is a market-based instrument issued when one megawatt-hour of electricity is generated and delivered to the electricity grid from a renewable energy resource. Under the RFP, all RECs purchased must be produced from eligible energy resources as defined in Subsection C of the Virginia Code.

Businesses seeking to submit a proposal can access criteria, required forms, and other specifics online at . Proposals must be submitted by July 27, 2022. Any PPA or Term REC proposals selected by Appalachian Power through the RFP process are conditional upon and subject to approval by the required regulatory authorities.

* * *

New effort to connect college support networks for low-income engineering students 

Can enrollment problems be treated as an engineering challenge?

Thanks to a $3 million grant from the National Science Foundation, an academic team from the Virginia Tech Department of Engineering Education is building a research hub headquartered at Tech to help untangle the network of systems that low-income engineering students face at four-year universities and community colleges. David Knight, associate professor in engineering education, will serve as lead principal investigator for the collaborative research effort.

“We have students who are just stuck in this web of campus offices,” Knight said in a statement. “We want to help enhance partnerships within institutions and their networks so procedures, collaborations, and arrangements can work better together.”

This research hub builds on prior experience with the NSF Scholarships in STEM program for Virginia Tech — a grant system for funding low-income student scholarships as well as research and activities that support recruitment, retention, transfer, student success and more.

The most recent project is the $5.4 million Virginia Tech Network for Engineering Transfer Students (VT-NETS), led by principal investigator Bevlee Watford and supported by co-principal investigators Knight and Walter Lee. VT-NETS is a collaborative effort among Virginia Tech, Virginia Western Community College and Northern Virginia Community College to establish strong networks in support of engineering transfer students in the pathway from community college to bachelor’s degree.

* * *

Debra and Philip Ramsey’s new business, Big Stone’s Gap Golf, Miniature Golf Course, LLC, was a recent recipient of a VCEDA Seed Capital Matching Grant. Also pictured with them are Big Stone Gap Mayor Gary Johnson and the course mascot, Golly Gopher. Courtesy of VCEDA.

VCEDA awards grant to miniature golf course in Big Stone Gap

The Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority has awarded a $10,000 matching seed capital grant to Big Stone’s Gap Golf, Miniature Golf Course LLC.

The business is owned by by Debra Ramsey and Philip Ramsey. The business projects three full-time jobs and five part-time jobs within five years, according to Jonathan Belcher, VCEDA executive director/general counsel.

The course itself features 18 golf holes and each has a marker relating a piece of the history of the town, ranging from agriculture and trains to books, nature, music, Spearhead Trails and more.

The Ramseys built the course and the clubhouse themselves, with Debra designing the holes and Phillip figuring out how to make it all work and building them. They received help from friends, including Traci Gravely, who assisted with electrical wiring needs, and a cousin, Ramsey Black, who helped out with other aspects of construction. The Ramseys’ daughter, Sophia, designed the business website:

In addition to the miniature golf course, visitors will also find a Book Nook where children up to age 12 are invited to read while they wait or to take a book home with them. Books are donated to the nook,or purchased through fundraisers.

The Ramseys worked with the Small Business Development Center at Mountain Empire Community College in developing their application to VCEDA and received a letter of support from the Wise County Industrial Development Authority.

About the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority Seed Capital Matching Grant Fund: VCEDA region for-profit businesses one year and under with less than 10 full-time employees are eligible to apply for dollar-for-dollar matching grants up to $10,000 from the VCEDA Seed Capital Matching Fund. Applicants work with the Small Business Development Centers at Mountain Empire and Southwest Virginia community colleges to prepare the applications to VCEDA that include detailed business and financial plans. Businesses must be located in or plan to operate in the VCEDA region in southwestern Virginia that includes Buchanan, Dickenson, Lee, Russell, Scott, Tazewell and Wise counties and the city of Norton.

* * *

Natural History museum in Martinsville to hold festival June 18

A scientific celebration of creatures big and small, furry and scaly, is set to take place at the Virginia Museum of Natural History in Martinsville on June 18, when the museum hosts its first-ever Wildlife Festival from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The event, which is part of the museum’s annual Science Festival series, will offer visitors a chance to view a wide variety of live animals, museum animal taxidermy mounts, and specimens from the museum’s scientific collections, as well as the opportunity to experience special presentations by wildlife experts and participate in wildlife-themed activities and crafts.

Among the animals on display will be raptors, snakes (including a monocled cobra), a juvenile alligator, turtles, toads, scorpions, a skink and a spider.

Additionally, the Wildlife Festival will offer visitors the opportunity to experience special presentations by wildlife experts, including:

“Animal Control … Questions, Concerns & What to do?”
Presented by Jayme Clark, Martinsville Animal Control officer, at 11 a.m.

“Bears, Bobcats and Coyotes … Oh, My!”

Presented by Katie Martin, deer, bear, turkey biologist at the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources, at 1 p.m.

“Wild Wonders in Your Backyard”

Presented by Darin Handy, All Are God’s Creatures Sanctuary, at 3 p.m.

Admission to the festival is $10 for adults ages 18-59 and $5 for children and youth ages 3-17, college students, and seniors 60 and older. Admission is free for children under 3, VMNH members, members of ASTC Passport participating institutions, and EBT card holders who present their EBT card and official photo ID at the door.

Wildlife Festival is made possible due to the support of The Helen S. and Charles G. Patterson, Jr. Charitable Foundation Trust.

To learn more about the festival, visit To learn more about the Virginia Museum of Natural History, visit

* * *